The Power Of Forgiveness For A Positive Life

Let It Go, Let It Gooooooo….

Elsa (Frozen)

Forgive. Let things go. Don’t dwell on past pain and suffering. Reflect on what happened, learn from it and move on. We’ve all heard this advice. We all understand the value in it, but how do we actually do this? This is what the books, podcasts and blog posts often forget to help us with. They offer the platitudes but not the all-important “how to”. That’s only half the work, and really doesn’t offer any benefit for those who are stuck and looking for help.

When somebody does something that negatively impacts us, whether intentionally or not, our natural instinct is to look at ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong to that person that they had to treat us badly. We blame ourselves and beat ourselves up. STOP. JUST STOP. When we do this, we are hurting ourselves unnecessarily.

By blaming ourselves for the wrongs others have inflicted on us, we are forgetting to take human nature into account. This is the first step to mastering the art of forgiveness; perspective;

  • Learn to understand that we are all human and make mistakes. Some of those mistakes will hurt or upset others. Others’ mistakes will hurt you, and you will also make mistakes in life that will hurt others.
  • Very rarely does somebody actually set out with the intention of hurting anybody else. We all have a moral compass, but some work better than others. Sometimes you will get hurt because somebody else is so focused on what they want, and know that you are the key to them getting it, that they fail to stop and consider any consequences. Accept that most people are driven by their own wants or needs. We become so focused on what we want, that we forget to stop and think about how our words or actions might affect others.

The point i’m making here is that it’s not about you. It’s more likely that the other person was going after what they wanted with tunnel vision and couldn’t see the damage that they were causing. Or, perhaps they just made a mistake. It is, thankfully, incredibly rare that one person would intentionally aim to hurt another. We are human. We make mistakes. We don’t always think before we act. I know this for a fact, because I have been here more times than I care to remember. I have hurt people who I loved and cared for deeply just by being thoughtless or through poor judgement.

You can’t dwell on the bad things that you suffered, though. All that this achieves is to slowly erode your confidence. The more you focus on the negative things that you have done or have been done to you, the more your mindset becomes negative. This, in turn, invites self-doubt, pessimism and cynicism into your life while also negatively affecting your relationships. As this all takes hold, you lose focus and direction in life, and opportunities pass you by. In short, by dwelling on past pain, you sabotage your personal or professional development while robbing yourself of happiness.

This is a battle which takes place in your head. Those that have wronged you, are likely carrying on with their lives, oblivious to the pain which they have caused. You, on the other hand, are constantly replaying what happened and beating yourself up. You do need to play it back, but you need to do it with a purpose or else you are just beating yourself up for no reason. This is the second step to mastering forgiveness; reflection;

  • You are going to replay the situation in your head anyway, so you might as well get some use out of it. Revisit as much as possible.
    • Try to think about the lead-up to the event; what conversations were had, what was done and how it affected you. Did you become angry? Anxious? Happy? Reassured? Hopeful? Nervous?
    • Then the event itself. What happened? How did it affect you? How did you react? Did you discuss this with the other person?
    • Now, the analysis, which is all about self-awareness, and determining whether you could make any changes to your own behaviour to stop something similar happening again. What lessons can you learn from the experience? If faced again with a similar situation, how would you react next time?

People will say and do things that will hurt you. They are human, and make mistakes. Sometimes they will let their emotions cloud their judgement, and they will not stop to think about how their words or actions will affect you. How this all affects you, is all down to you, and you alone. You can let it eat you up and negatively affect your life, or you can learn and grow from the experience before letting go and moving on.

Fame And Forgiveness

Why do we absolve certain individuals of responsibility for their wrongdoings just because they are famous? More importantly, why are we more forgiving of them than we are of our own friends and family? Too often, we judge those closest to us too harshly, because we care and because their actions affect us personally, but forgive famous people very quickly for doing much worse.

Celebrities are human and make mistakes like everybody else, but theirs are made in the public eye. Unfortunately, that’s part of the fame and fortune package they signed up for; a certain loss of anonymity. While these people entertain and educate us, and we do sympathise with them when their problems become public, we need to stop putting them on a pedestal and making excuses for them. Minor indiscretions, such as public drunkenness or rudeness, of course should be forgiven. After all, if we did the same things ourselves, those closest to us would forgive us. Eventually. The problem, however, is when these indiscretions are against the law.

Recently, two celebrities hit the news in thew UK for all the wrong reasons. Ant McPartlin, a popular tv presenter, crashed his car head-on into another car. Why? He was drunk. Before this, Jamie Carragher, former footballer, spat at a 14 year old girl. What on earth led him to this? She was teasing him after his former club, Liverpool, lost to Manchester United.

I am frankly disgusted that both of the above incidents were brushed off as mental illness, and we were implored to feel sorry for them. The consequences for their actions would be laughable if their offences weren’t so disgusting. They were both temporarily relieved of their tv presenting and commentating duties, with McPartlin entering a rehab facility.

While they will be inconvenienced by a loss of earnings, that’s pretty much all the punishment they will face. The former footballer spat at a child, with spitting AT someone classed as assault. Spitting ON someone is classed as battery. Yet no charges brought for a criminal offence because he is famous. While he gets sympathy, understanding and forgiveness, where was this for his victim, a 14 year old girl?

As for the tv presenter, he drove a car while under the influence off alcohol and crashed head-on into another car, he was charged with drink-driving and allowed to enter a rehab clinic to a public outpouring of sympathy and support. Again, where was any of this for the other drivers and car owners?

Having made mistakes of my own in life, big ones, I do feel for them to a certain extent. But to write it all off as mental illness is to play down what mental illness actually is. Mental illness is a constant fight with yourself. It’s debilitating, and scary at times when your mind attacks you. It is not a convenient excuse to explain away disgusting behaviour.

The former footballer wasn’t suffering from mental illness – he simply lashed out in the heat of the moment. The fact that he chose to lash out by spitting would point to an inflated ego and unhealthy levels of self importance.

As for the tv presenter, he is going through a tough divorce, but the choice to drive while under the influence of alcohol was his own. A choice which could well have cost somebody their life.

All of this just raises question about the nature of forgiveness. Why do we forgive a celebrity, or instinctively side with them during a dispute, so easily when we are so hard on our loved ones? Why can’t we be more forgiving, and understanding, of each other?

Most importantly of all…What would the world look like if we forgave and made an effort to understand our loved ones as easily as we do with famous people who we admire?

Forgiveness (John Greenleaf Whittier)

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

Man’s Best Friend

Today, after 14 wonderful years, I laid to rest my loyal companion Scooby. Sad as it always is to say goodbye, I have no intention of dwelling on the loss or seeking pity, but i would rather remember fondly the times we spent together and what he taught me. It is this which I would……

via Man’s Best Friend — BayArt

Having recently been asked to write for the BayArt collective blog, the day before I had to say a painful goodbye to my beloved dog, I decided that my first piece should be about life with a dog and what it taught me. If you are interested in reading more, please follow the link above, and as always, please feel free to let me know what you think.